I was working on the AIW's wiki when something took my attention. The wiki says that to free the Spire Civilian Leader Outposts, the players only need to destroy the AI OCStation on the same planet. However, I remembered (and the outpost's tooltip agreed with me) that the outpost needs to be captured (with a human OCStation) in order to provide its AIP reduction.
Here is the outpost's tooltip's description:
Against their will, every hour each outpost increases the AI Progress by 1 when in control of the AI. You have the choice of either destroying these outposts for colloduing with the AI, or freeing the outposts by capturing the planet from the AI. When freed, each of these outposts will gratefully decrease the AI Progress by 3 every hour.
It sounds clear:
"free" <- "capturing
the planet from the AI"
"free" -> "-3 AIP/hour"
I ran a test and discovered the truth: I was wrong since the beginning, and so is the tooltip. I started a sandbox game with complete visibility; 10 outposts, fine. I captured one and only "freed" one. At the 1:00:00 timestamp, I got 10 log entries: 8 times "+1 AIP" and 2 times "-3 AIP".
Consequences: players don't need to capture and defend civilians to get the -3 aip/h. I have always captured and defended the civilians I wanted to rally and destroyed the ones I gave up (unless nethack-like "conduct"). That was hard but feasible: out of 10, I need only to capture and defend 3 of them (and assassinate none) to get a positive AIP trend (positive to me, which is negative... got it?). That made interesting expansion choices and if I chose to defend a remote civilian, I knew I were in for a lotsa pain. That was tough but balance, IMO. However, with that new data... I imagine I would be able to unlock high Mk Raid Starships and assassinate some AI OCStations and a few civilians to easily make a big positive AIP trend.
Let's imagine my raiders free 5 outposts and kill the 5 furthest outposts. That makes -15 aip/h for 100 AIP, refunded after the 6h mark. And keep in mind that even without capturing, I can gather the Knowledge, which makes 15,000 K (I won't have the energy, but I would have used it to power turrets to defend the civilian; I only forfeit the metal, which isn't the most important resource in AIW). The first 6 hours will be harder because of the invested AIP, but after that, it's 15,000 "free" K and one "free" planet every 1h20. Also, every civilian falling in my territory will "cost" nothing, because I'll get all my K, E and M for the 20 AIP.
My question is twofold.
1) Did you know?
2) Is it balanced?
The tooltip clearly needs to be updated, but wouldn't it be interesting to change the gameplay to fit the tooltip? (Make capture and defense of the outposts mandatory.) IMO, that would makes (and made, for me, until now) interesting strategic and moral choices (capture and defend or assassinate).
Anyway, I'll make the wiki tell that louder.